Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Rodney Frelinghuysen
Date: May 31, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, it is my honor to bring the fiscal year 2013 Energy and Water bill before the full House.

Before I begin my remarks, let me thank the full chairman, Mr. Rogers, as well as the ranking member, Mr. Dicks, for their support of a very open process. I would also like to thank my ranking member, Congressman Pete Visclosky, for his dedication to our joint mission and our close working relationship. The bill is stronger for his input and knowledge.

I would also like to thank the committee staff: Rob Blair, our clerk; Joe Levin; Loraine Heckenberg; Angie Giancarlo; Perry Yates; and Trevor Higgins. On the minority side, I would like to thank Taunja Berquam. I would also like to thank my personal staff, Nancy Fox and Katie Hazlett, and Mr. Visclosky's personal staff in the form of Joe DeVo.

Mr. Chairman, the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill supports programs critical to our Nation's security, safety, and economic competitiveness. Our recommendation prioritizes investments in our nuclear security enterprise, programs to address gasoline prices, and opportunities to advance American competitiveness, including the key role of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The bill for fiscal year 2013 totals $32.1 billion. Security funding is increased by $275 million over last year, while non-security funding is cut by $188 million.

Mr. Chairman, there are no earmarks in this legislation.

We also reclaim most unused funds from previous Congresses, so this bill actually cuts spending by $623 million below last year, forcing our agencies down to more appropriate sizes and to operate with less money. The only significant increases over last year's level are to nuclear security and to develop a true all-of-the-above energy strategy. We also provide more funding to the Corps, including $1 billion for Harvard Maintenance Trust Fund projects. The recommendation also fully funds Weapons Activities to ensure that the Secretary of Energy has the investments he needs to certify to the President that our nuclear stockpile is reliable.

We have also heard from the public frustration about ``stimulus fund'' investments into failed energy projects. This bill will remove the Energy Department back to its core responsibilities--to serve Americans by protecting their security and improving our energy independence. Our bill will help improve that independence by sustaining fossil and nuclear energy research development, the latter of which is leading to investments in new nuclear power plants and developing small modular reactors. And, unlike the President, we have always considered ``clean coal'' to be part of our national energy security.

At the same time, the Department of Energy's energy programs are cut by nearly $600 million, or 6 percent, by reducing programs which received the largesse of the largely failed so-called ``stimulus'' program. No funding is provided for the Solyndra-like loan guarantee programs in our bill.

All of our constituents are wrestling with how to pay for higher gasoline bills on limited budgets. This bill does not provide a quick fix, since there's little that the Department can do in its programs to immediately change oil supply and demand. However, the bill provides over $1.01 billion--$36 million above fiscal year 2012--to strengthen the Department of Energy's programs addressing the causes and impacts of higher gasoline prices down the road.

Within this, the recommendation funds a new program to promote shale oil recovery. If we could fully use this resource, our country's reserves could equal all global conventional reserves. This would make a major dent in oil prices and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

Additionally, scientific research at the Department of Energy strengthens American competitiveness and enables true breakthroughs in the energy sector, and the bill preserves and protects it. The bill also protects public safety and keeps America literally open for business by providing $4.8 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $83 million above the request and $188 million below fiscal year 2012.

As in fiscal year 2012, our bill maintains the constitutional role of Congress in the appropriations process by ensuring that all worthy Corps of Engineers projects have a chance to compete for funding. The bill provides $324 million in addition to the President's requested projects, investing in navigation and flood control--activities most critical to public safety, jobs, and our economy.

Finally, a word about Yucca Mountain. The recommendation includes $25 million for Yucca Mountain with language prohibiting activity which keeps that facility from being usable in the future. The recommendation also denies funding for Blue Ribbon Commission activities, which need legislative authorization. Research and development activities to support Yucca Mountain are permitted. This will ensure that we keep Congress in the driver's seat for nuclear waste policy.

Mr. Chairman, this is a tight, fiscally conservative bill which funds critical national security, jobs, and infrastructure priorities while helping to fight future gasoline price increases. This bill deserves our Members' support, and I look forward to an open and full discussion and open process.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I, too, commend the gentlewoman's efforts to bring this matter to our attention. She has described well the sometimes conflicting concerns regarding vegetation and levees. I look forward to continuing to work with her and our other colleagues interested in this issue to ensure that the Corps gives serious consideration to their concerns and perhaps conducts additional research if it is deemed advisable prior to finalizing its levee vegetation policy.


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentlewoman for her concern about sustaining the mission of science, fusion energy, research, and other activities at the National Ignition Facility. I know she's a strong advocate for science, and I commend her for her attention and support.

While this facility's primary purpose is to support sustainment of our nuclear weapons stockpile, it was also envisioned to be a user facility. Basic science and fusion energy will always remain an important part of the NIF's mission.

I thank her for her advocacy and work on behalf of the NIF.


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman, Mr. Thompson, for bringing this issue to our committee's attention. We take seriously our obligation of ensuring that Reclamation is efficiently using its appropriated funds to maximize the taxpayer return on investment, and I would be happy to work with the gentleman to continue congressional oversight of the actions at Lake Berryessa specifically.


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Maryland for yielding and for the additional and very valuable extra background information regarding his subcommittee's very important and critical work on shale oil.

As the gentleman noted, our bill's all-of-the-above energy strategy to address high gasoline prices includes $25 million for research to reduce barriers to the safe environmental and economic development of the United States' vast, untapped oil shale resources.

I strongly agree with the gentleman that this funding is intended for investments in technology and scientific research, not regulatory action, which can ultimately enable economic and environmentally responsible shale oil production. The gentleman has identified some very important, specific research areas in his remarks, and we will continue to consider these and other lines of work as we look to further shape the program. I look forward to continued discussion with my colleague as we move forward in that process, and I thank him for his work on this very critical issue.


Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Let me associate my remarks with the ranking member's. We thank all of those who have come forward. We look forward to a vigorous couple of days ahead as we consider the rest of the energy and water bill. I thank the gentleman and all those who have participated.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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